I get it, but....
Yes, the Caps are tied for first place in the Eastern conference, even without Alex Ovechkin on the ice. And, yes, the Caps are tied for second place in the league. So, Ted Leonsis keeps imploring the fans to 'enjoy the game' and 'relax'. I've been a Caps fan since 1974 and I'm not in the mood to relax anymore about this town's lack of a Stanley Cup. Not when the Caps have the most spectacular player in the NHL on their team. Sorry Ted.
I interrupt this rant to congratulate Chris Clark on his game winning goal against the injury and flu depleted New York Islanders in the 11th round of the shootout. I like Clarkie a lot and he's struggled since all of his injuries, so I'm happy he got the GWG. I also give Semin kudos for the spectacular game he played tonight. His shot was on fire as he had 11 shots, 2 goals and a goal in the shootout. Finally, I'll congratulate first star, Semyon Varlamov, for his spectacular play in net, particularly, during the shootout. His athleticism was on display with his goal stopping splits. Varly came off the bench to replace Jose Theodore after he let in 3 goals on 5 shots.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, I mean rant. The Caps have proven they can win the Southeast Division in the regular season. But, who cares? First of all, the Caps play in the weakest division in the league. Second of all, it's only the second season in hockey that counts. Winning the division doesn't matter in the playoffs. The score sheet starts out blank and 16 wins later through a grueling slog of gritty defensively minded hockey, some team out of 30 hoists the best trophy in the world, the Stanley Cup.
The Caps playoff history in the Ovie era is not impressive -- 1 playoff series win in 3 played and that win came on a goal by a determined Sergei Fedorov against the New York Rangers. Ovie himself, however, played tremendous hockey in the playoffs last year generating 11 goals, 10 assists in 14 games and playing +10 hockey. You can't ask for much more from the Caps superstar. I can ask a lot more from the rest of the team during the playoffs.
So, what bothers me about how the Caps are playing right now:
- The constant playing down to the level of competition (this started last season) and the inability to put inferior competition away in games. Championship teams do this.
- The lack of defense, at times, from both the forwards and the defense. The forwards need to back check and the defense needs to step it up.
- The stupid stick handling penalties at inopportune times. Alexander Semin can't seem to stop himself from committing untimely infractions. This is simply inexcusable. He's not the only one, but I'll pick on him for now.
What I like about the Caps playing without Ovie - the fact that scoring is coming in bunches and from a lot of different people. Let's keep that up Caps when Ovie comes back.
The Caps play the Minnesota Wild on Friday before heading on a road trip.
Let's go Caps!